Olivia Goldhill, Boasting about how many hours you work is a sign of failure, Quartz at Work, December 8, 2018
Less Is More
Showing off about overwork is now so ubiquitous it’s difficult to remember a time when lack of sleep and hours spent at the office weren’t talked of with a puff of pride. “We just maximize every hour we can, however we can do it,” Twitter executive chairman Omid Kordestani told the Wall Street Journal (paywall) in 2015, explaining that he became chief executive Jack Dorsey’s driver so they could talk business as they commute. “When you hear the so-called apocryphal stories about Tim Cook coming to work in the wee hours and staying late,” Don Melton, who started Apple’s Safari, told Debug podcast in 2014, “it’s not just some PR person telling you stories to make you think that Apple executives work really hard like that. They really do that.”
Through the WI Lens
Many prominent tech CEOs boast about their long working hours, claiming that: “80 to 100 hours per week is necessary to change the world”. The problem is: countless academic studies demonstrate that productivity dramatically decreases with longer working hours. None has ever shown the opposite. Some scientific papers even go further, suggesting that after people reach 55 hours of work a week, every extra hour is almost wasted in terms of potential productivity increase. It’s remarkable that so many successful individuals continue their devotion to a principle that is not only outdated but proven to be unjustified.
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”
“All roads lead to a wellbeing anchor, whether that be economic/financial, physical, mental or emotional: all contribute to a progressive and inclusive cosmopolitan world. The answer should not be a choice of one or the other but of a joined up and compassionate solution for society, business and individuals.”
“The paradox is that we continue to do this in spite of recognising that striving to become ever-more productive is an intrinsically unhealthy behaviour, leading to stress and too often, a sense of failure.”
“The same broad-sweeping structural racism that enables police brutality against black Americans is also responsible for higher mortality among black Americans with Covid-19,” Maimuna Majumder, a Harvard epidemiologist working on the Covid-19 response, tells Vox.
The take-out from this? Wellbeing cannot exist at a more elevated level without our basic needs being met.